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February 4, 2003

Rapes Alleged in SF Psyche Ward

From:, CA - 04 Feb 2003

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) -- Shocking allegations have emerged about the rape of mentally handicapped patients inside the psychiatric ward of St. Luke’s Hospital in San Francisco, a facility that's supposed to be closely monitored.

Sources tell KRON 4 News that the rapes are alleged to have occurred last Tuesday in the hospital's acute psychiatric care facility. 29-year-old Matthew Royden, a patient in the ward, has been accused of sexual assaulting two female patients.

“These were very vulnerable people and that’s a particular concern in this investigation,” says Lt. Rich Corriea, the head of the San Francisco Police Department’s sex crimes unit. “We had people that were vulnerable and were at risk already. And our concern is how this could have happened to them.

“Inspectors Laws and Kozzowski who responded to the hospital that night determined that over some period of hours, maybe so much as a day, he would spend time with these young women and begin to get closer with them and at some point force himself on them,” Corriea says.

The two alleged victims are between the ages of 20 and 40. One is blind and deaf. Lt. Corriea tells KRON 4 News, the hospital called police after one of the victims reported what happened.

“It is very disturbing because these people are under someone else's care already,” he said.

Police want to know just how the alleged attacks could happen in a locked psychiatric ward where mentally ill patients are supposed to be monitored at all times.

“How it happened is a very big concern of ours and we're very concerned that these victims who are vulnerable and in this facility needed extra protection and our investigation isn’t bearing out that they received that protection,” Corriea said.

Hospitals are required by law to report all such incidents to the state Department of Health.

KRON 4 News has reviewed state records pertaining to St. Luke’s Hospital. Last year, the state issued a deficiency report which described an alleged sexual assault in the hospital's psyche ward. In that report, the 58-year-old victim reported that she was attacked by a member of the staff.

In 1994, state health inspectors found that the psyche ward failed to have sufficient staffing on numerous occasions in June of that year.

At that time, one staff member told investigators that because of the understaffing, some residents fell through the cracks.

Lt. Corriea worries that Royden may have attacked other patients, and that the police department is investigating further allegations of sexual assault.

(Copyright 2003 KRON 4. All Rights Reserved.)